Into the West: Warriors Head Coach Joe Paopao returns to the BC Lions

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After seven years coaching the Waterloo football team, almost exactly one year in charge of the program, and a year as interim head coach, the great Joe Paopao is going home… sort of.

Paopao, known as the “Throwin’ Samoan” for his excellent quarterbacking, played for the Canadian Football League’s BC Lions from 1978 to 1983, followed by stints around the league. He started for the Lions for a few years, breaking a record in 1979 for single-game consecutive completions with 18. Paopao was the backup quarterback when the Lions lost to the Argonauts in 1983’s 71st Grey Cup. He now sits on the B.C. Lions Wall of Fame.

After a variety of coaching jobs in the CFL and the short-lived American XFL, primarily as offensive co-ordinator or head coach, Paopao joined the Warriors in 2007 as offensive co-ordinator and signal caller. During his tenure, the team struggled: they had not broken a .375 winning percentage while he worked with the team, did not field a team in 2010 in the wake of a steroid scandal, and were 3–13 with Paopao as head coach.

Paopao’s newest move returns him to the Lions as an assistant coach in charge of receivers. The move will also bring him closer to his family and offseason home in San Diego. “It is such a wonderful opportunity for him, said interim head coach Marshall Bingeman, “to basically go home … to where he started his career in Canada, to where he has tons of close friends, his son is only four hours away in Washington … it’s exactly what he hoped for to finish off his coaching career.”

Bingeman, who has been coaching for the Warriors for 23 years and joined the coaching staff immediately following his playing career at the school, will take the interim head coaching job for the second time. When asked about the possibility of taking on the job in a long-term capacity, Bingeman stated that it was too early to comment. “These things with Coach Paopao happened very quickly, it was less than a week. It’s really, really early days yet … My job now is to continue to prepare this football team by preparing our student athletes, by fundraising, and by keeping recruits committed to the program and filling out the rest of our recruiting class.”

Though the team is still in rebuild mode, they expect a strong recruiting class this year, bringing in around 24 or 25 new players. Bingeman expects that the team will take a few years yet to become contenders once again, and the team’s direction to become better defined once the head coach position is filled, but he sees a good year up ahead. “It’s going to take a little bit more time yet,” said Bingeman, “I do see a lot of positive growth in our players … I’m excited where we are. I’m excited with the progress of our players that we have.”

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